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The Impreza Outback combines sporty handling, all-wheel drive safety and cargo-carrying practicality.

2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport Road Test
Small outside, yet big inside

By Bill Roebuck

Subaru redesigned its Impreza line for 2002, adding much new standard equipment, including four-wheel, four-channel ABS brakes, air conditioning and an audio system with a CD player. A number of significant structural improvements were made as well. The Outback Sport also received heated front seats, 16-in. alloy wheels, and new roof rails with cross bars. These features add up to a very good value. And although it's small, the Impreza doesn't skimp on its cargo-carrying duties.

It's not quite as enthralling to drive as its WRX cousin, yet the Impreza Outback Sport wagon delivers a spirited ride. The 2.5-litre four-cylinder produces 165 hp. Our test model had the 5-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is merely adequate at 0-100 km/h in 11.2 sec., but even so, it is quite fun to drive.

The Impreza has a first-class all-wheel drive system and excellent sport-tuned, fully independent suspension, making it precise and stable in various road conditions. The vehicle's low centre of gravity keeps body roll at bay.

Driving on a rough gravel road produced a cacophony of noise, including an interior rattle likely from a rear moulding, and loud pinging from stones hitting the wheel wells. Even on the highway, the Impreza let a significant amount of road sounds into the cabin.

This wagon features a novel innovation that all manufacturers should emulate. The cargo cover storage beam can be removed and placed in a special holder under the cargo floor. This way, you'll never lose it, even when you disconnect it to gain the full cargo space when the 60/40 split rear seats are folded.

Tested price: $27,800.

© Copyright Bill Roebuck, 2002.

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